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Failing to fit the fitness need

July 16, 2007

Re "Lifting the bar," editorial, July 12

Legislation designed to improve the physical fitness of California's kids by requiring them to pass yet another test so they can opt out of physical education in high school -- are you kidding me? How is letting kids opt out of P.E. going to improve their fitness levels?

The current two-year P.E. requirement in high school is merely a cost-cutting device that does not benefit students. Eliminating that requirement altogether based on a one-time fitness test is ludicrous and gives students the message that fitness need not be a lifetime goal.

The bill by State Sen. Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch) should have made two years of P.E. mandatory, allowing no one to opt out.

As an elementary school teacher who gave the fifth-grade physical fitness test to my students for the last two years, I can tell you that by the time kids are 10 or 11, many if not most are already weak, inflexible and overweight. They have poor diets and sedentary lifestyles. But at the end of the mandatory six-week training period, most kids can pass at least parts of the fitness test.If California really wanted to improve children's fitness, it would put P.E. teachers in elementary schools, where children are most impressionable and lifelong habits are formed.

KAREN D. HAMSTROM

Huntington Beach

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